The Strange, Strange World of Chinese ‘Star Wars’ Bootlegs

Notice anything? (Huffington Post UK)

Ever seen a Chinese bootleg Star Wars movie? While nothing should surprise us in this day and age, well…yikes. These movies are nightmares for grammarians and linguists and paydirt for Star Wars fans. Heaven help those who can tick off more than one of those boxes.

Here’s the lowdown for the unfamiliar: Some unknown individual translated the films’ dialogue into Chinese, specifically Mandarin, and then translated the translation back into English and dubbed it into the original film, using actors that sound vaguely like the original stars. It’s funny that in a country that, as a general thing, doesn’t particularly like or want Star Wars, someone took the time to wrestle idioms and syntax into frightfully bad dialogue. I don’t know why anyone would do this.

Apparently in Obi-Wan’s day Jedi knights wore medieval armor and went jousting on motorcycles. (Nick Stember)

Turns out, Chinese Star Wars bootlegs are nothing new, although a lot of them come in comic book form. Heck, Chinese bootleg movies in general are nothing new. They even have a name for it–lianhuanhuaand it’s been done since there have been movies.

So yeah, here are the three bootlegs currently on YouTube. There are others apparently available on a Google doc, but it seems a little shady. YouTube is just fine, thanks. Off we go…

Backstroke of the West

The only known available feature-length bootleg, Backstroke of the West is, of course, Revenge of the Sith. It apparently dates from 2006 and was posted on YouTube in 2016. Obviously, there were a lot of changes to the dialogue, not to mention Yoda sounds like a half-asleep old woman. He doesn’t even talk backwards anymore. And for some reason Anakin is called “Allah gold.” None of it makes sense. None of it.

 The Novelty Desire

This one is, of course, based on Star Wars: A New Hope, and it opens with Threepio dropping a nice little F-bomb. I forgot to mention that these movies have randomly-placed cuss words, so yeah, they’re not exactly family-friendly.

The Counterattack Collection

Obviously this one is based on Empire Strikes Back and obviously it’s hilarious. At least Yoda sounds more like himself. And in a couple of moments of irony, Luke groans, “You know who you are and you know who you are and you know who you are.” and “What are the words?”

What makes this excerpt unique, though, is that it includes ending credits that don’t credit the actors. Most of the names are gibberish, but Lando Calrissian is known as “Lang California” and played by someone named “Smoothcrooner777.”

Again, it’s hard to explain just how bad the dialogue is in these movies. Oh my gosh. Here’s another very small sample of actual phrases uttered:

  • I should really feed you all dog.
  • Every car is here. I am running.
  • Repeated, smooth sleeves.
  • Is.
  • Ford Escape in battle was canceled.
  • This is really too stick.
  • In comparison, 3,720 is 3,270. Permanent unnecessary fees.
  • The love can’t save you the plum of.

I wish I was making this up. I really do.

Not even Peter Cushing is safe.

If anyone is a bootleg newbie, I recommend checking out my Substack tomorrow, because I’ll be posting a list of what I hope are handy dandy tips for viewing these movies. The experience may not be completely painless, but it’ll be unforgettable, that’s for sure.

Another “Stage To Screen” is on the way tomorrow, Thanks for reading, everyone, and happy Fourth!

If you’re enjoying what you see on Taking Up Room, please look for additional content on Substack, where you’ll find both free and subscriber-only articles. I publish every Wednesday and Saturday.

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